How to Give Back on the 9/11 Day of Service

Though government workers serve every day, September 11 is a special reason to give back to the community in a whole new way.

The 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance is a way to pay tribute to the victims of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks and honor the remarkable community response that followed. Through the 9/11 Day of Service, Americans work together to find meaning in a day of tragedy by redefining it as a celebration of hope and kindness.

Even though 9/11 is now the largest day of service in the U.S., one quarter of adult Americans said they would have participated if only they’d been asked.

So, we’re asking you to give back on September 11. Here’s how:

Observe a moment of silence in your office

Emotions need an outlet on September 11. A moment of silence is a way for people to come together in reflection and pay tribute to those lost. As he did in previous years, on September 11 President Obama is expected to lead the nation in a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. ET, marking when the first plane struck the towers.

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum’s guide on 9/11 moments of silence and community conversations is a useful place to start in planning your office’s moment of silence.

photo of September 11 moment of silence at the White House with President Obama

Pledge to do one good deed

Even if you’re not ready to rally your coworkers to join you, you can get out there and do a personal good deed for the 9/11 Day of Service.

Not sure which good deed to do? Try one of these: Donate blood, get trained to help your community during a disaster, help out at a local food bank, pick up trash in a neighborhood park, send thank you cards to your local first responders, or bring flowers to a veterans cemetery. You can also volunteer with your favorite nonprofit or find a 9/11 Day nonprofit volunteer opportunity.

Your good deed can motivate others. Let your coworkers know that you’ll be taking part in the 9/11 Day of Service and you might be surprised at how many people you inspire.

Hold an office-wide day of service event

There are many service events you can hold without leaving the office. Collect clothing, food, or book donations, or host a blood drive. Your office can even support military service members and veterans in creative ways, such as by making handmade scarves and writing letters.

If your staff is able to leave the office, the 9/11 Day Participation Guide for Employers (PDF) details how to choose and run a 9/11 Day project for your colleagues. The Corporation for National and Community Service also shares ideas and toolkits for organizing good deeds.

If you’re in D.C., volunteer at Points of Light’s 9/11 Day of Service event, Generation Ties. At the event, war veterans will share stories about their military experiences with local youth. As a volunteer, you’ll help children record the veterans’ stories in books that will be gifted to other children who had parents deployed after September 11, 2001. RSVP to volunteer.

If your office can’t muster an event, at the least send an email to staff to encourage them to participate in the 9/11 National Day of Service. Include this blog post in your email as a helpful resource.

Challenge your friends and coworkers to serve

No matter how you choose to serve, the best way to increase the number of people who give back through community service is to invite your friends, family, and coworkers to join you.

The 911day.org website makes it easy to issue a 9/11 Good Deed Challenge. Simply describe the good you’ll do on September 11, then use the site to invite people you know to do a good deed too. You can issue your friendly challenge via Facebook or though an email.

9/11 Day Good Deed Challenge screenshot

Share your commitment to service abundantly

Before, during, and after your day of service in remembrance of September 11, spread the word by sharing your story abundantly on social media. (We’ll have more social media advice at the agency level in another post.)

  • Start by sharing this blog post to help others make their 9/11 Day of Service plan. It’s easy. Just click to send a tweetpost it to Facebook, or share it on LinkedIn.
  • Then, use social media to tell people the good deed you’ll do on September 11.
  • While you’re out there doing good on 9/11, take and share photos and videos of your staff during their inspiring service day.

Whenever you share, be sure to use the hashtag #911Day and, optionally, #OneGoodDeed and #NeverForget.

Will you and your colleagues participate in the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance? Share your plans in the comments. 

Lauren Girardin is a marketing and communications consultant, writer, and trainer. Find her on Twitter at @girardinl. Points of Light is one of my clients.

Photo credits: Official White House photo of September 11, 2014 moment of silence by Chuck Kennedy (public domain).

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